Harvard, Massachusetts was hammered in the weeks before Christmas, first with an ice-storm that knocked out power for thousands, and then a snowstorm that delayed the restoration of power. What do you do in such a situation if you don't have a generator? If you're John Sweeney, you hook up your Toyota Prius to your house.
Sweeney, an electrical engineer, was able to use an inverter to convert the DC power coming out of the car into AC power for some of the appliances in his house. The Prius was able to generate 17 Kilowatt hours of energy, enough to power his refrigerator, freezer, wood stove fan, lights and television.
The Prius' hybrid powertrain includes a powerful battery pack and a normal internal combustion engine. When the Prius battery gets low, the vehicle turns itself on, and uses the gasoline engine to recharge the battery. Sweeney said the car ran for three days, turning itself on once for a few minutes every half hour, and consumed about five gallons of gasoline.
Source: Boston Business Journal